AgrAbility creates position of veterans outreach coordinator

September 23, 2014  

chastain guard photo

Cindy Chastain, when this 2009 photo was taken, was deputy commander of the Indiana National Guard’s 1-19th Agribusiness Development Team. She is now farmer veteran AgrAbility coordinator for the National AgrAbility Project, based at Purdue University. (Purdue Agricultural Communication file photo/Tom Campbell)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The National AgrAbility Project is expanding its services to veterans with disabilities interested in agriculture with the appointment of Cindy Chastain to the new position of farmer veteran AgrAbility coordinator.

The appointment was announced Tuesday (Sept. 23) by Paul Jones, AgrAbility project manager based at Purdue University.

While only about 17 percent of Americans live in rural areas, rural residents account for approximately 44 percent of the U.S. military, Jones said.

 "Many of our warriors return home with visible and invisible disabilities that may restrict their employment options," he said. "Agriculture may be a viable possibility for many of them.

"At the same time, the local food movement is providing increased opportunities for small-scale agriculture, which may be an option even for veterans with little or no farming background."

Chastain's responsibilities include networking with the 20 state and regional AgrAbility projects and other relevant organizations to improve opportunities and outcomes for farmer-veteran clients. She will represent AgrAbility at various veteran- and agriculture-related events, assist in planning and conducting AgrAbility's veterans initiatives, and serve as a consultant for state and regional projects.

cindy chastain

Cindy Chastain 
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Jones noted that Chastain has a strong background in both the military and agriculture. She grew up on a family farm in Indiana and later earned a bachelor's degree in animal sciences from Purdue, where she participated in ROTC.

Chastain then served as an Army officer for more than 31 years, including as deputy commander of the 1-19th Agribusiness Development Team from 2008 to 2010. The team was deployed to Afghanistan from 2009-10.

Chastain continues to function as president of Chastain Farms in Crawfordsville.

The position is funded through support from the CHS Foundation and in partnership with the Farmer Veteran Coalition, which helps veterans develop careers in agriculture,

AgrAbility is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and consists of a national project, led by the Breaking New Ground Resource Center at Purdue, and state/regional projects serving 22 states.            

Writer: Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722, 

Source: Paul Jones, 765-494-1221,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson,
Agriculture News Page

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